This is a guest post by Derek Pangallo.
Hi, I’m a political scientist in Washington, DC working on and writing about political new media and online advertising. Reach me: derek.pangallo(a)gmail.com
No matter the industry you seek to get ahead in, you want a resume that makes a splash. In this post I’ll share some practices I’ve come up with that make you more appealing to the recruiter, and let you get some passive feedback from them. This isn’t an article encouraging you to add your twitter profile to your resume. In fact I’ll make a point to discourage it. The focus is leveraging technology to make your resume work better.
Every hiring manager has a different process, so we must acknowledge that some people read the resume before the cover letter. It’s also likely you’re resume will never be printed unless you get called in for an interview. For these reasons, the first overall impression of the resume is of utmost importance.
The best way to control the first-impression experience of your resume is to use the PDF format. Word documents look messy with all the rulers and toolbars, plus on a foreign computer’s dictionary, your ethnic last name will get the dreaded red-squiggly underneath. No point in racial profiling yourself.
What’s really great about PDF: using Adobe Acrobat professional, you can set the initial view properties of a document point-by-point. I have my resume set to “fit to page” upon opening, so the recruiter gets a bird’s-eye view before ever deciding if I’m worth scrolling down for. Even though you can’t actually read any of my experience or skills, you have to admit it’s a damn sharp resume. Interest acquired, awe accomplished.
You can also set options on the document like “full-screen viewing” and “hide all controls”; don’t do this. When opening a PDF like this up, Adobe gives the warning “this document is trying to take control of your computer” or something — that’s not the first impression we’re looking for.
Link Click Tracking
There are a couple ways to get feedback once your resume is in the figurative hands of a hiring manager. The easiest is to shorten the links in your resume using http://goo.gl. Add the shortened URL as your link, leaving the display text as the actual destination. On my resume it looks like this:
If you hover with your mouse, you can see the link points to http://goo.gl/cTRpE. For the end user, there is no difference after clicking, but we can now track when and how many times the link was clicked. Just add a “+” symbol to the end to see a link’s analytics: http://goo.gl/cTRpE+
You can use this method regardless of where you are directing your visitors. Periodically checking the “all-time” clicks on your links will give you an idea of how many recruiters bothered to click through to your blog, Linkedin, or portfolio.
If you want even more data about outbound clicks on your resume, you’ll need to be directing traffic to a site you control and have a Google Analytics account associated with it.
Using Google’s Free analytics tool, we can massage out even more data about the appeal of your resume. We can see exactly which job recruiter did the clicking, what city they were in, how long they stayed on your site, and much more. I’ll presume that you have a Google Analytics account and have it installed on your site.
This time around our desire isn’t to make links shorter, it’s to make them longer. You may have noticed longer URL’s with “UTM” codes in them. These are codes that tell Google Analytics where you were referred from. Organizing for America and Twitter both use this prominently in their emails.
For your first tagged URL, use the Google Analytics URL Builder. You enter the URL you will be redirecting to, then enter a campaign Source, Medium and Name (somewhat overkill for our purposes, but all three are requires.) I use one character, “r”, for source and medium, and change the “name” field for every resume I send out. Now you can tell exactly which resumes earned you clicks, drill-downing into that data.
Intelligent Use of Landing Pages
A quick word about where you’re actually directing traffic: make it count. Have a custom page on your blog just for talent-seekers. Also, optimize your LinkedIn profile make an impression. One way to do this is to rearrange profile elements so your recommendations are at the top. And definitely make sure LinkedIn users outside your network can see your photo — this is not the default setting.
What I’ve found
I’ve been utilizing these techniques for a few months now, and here’s what I know for sure: most of the jobs that call you for an interview still only clicked on one of your links. The lesson is that your resume only needs one link. Make it count. Depending on the job you’re looking for, link to your LinkedIn, your blog, or your portfolio. Don’t make it your twitter account unless you’re applying to work at Twitter, or your last tweet is always the first thing you want a prospective employer to see.
Questions/Improvements? Leave a comment or reach me on twitter, @derallo.
This is a guest post by Derek Pangallo.
Through much trail and error, I may have written the *perfect* cover letter. No — not bragging: I’m still getting turned down after each interview (I’ll write another post when I perfect that.) The simple method I have been employing runs contrary to conventional wisdom, but has taken me from a 1% to a 10% call-back rate.
After sending out a thousand applications and only landing about 10 interviews, something had to change. Literally my Gmail storage limit was maxing out from attaching my resume so many times. I decided to take a (qualitative) scientific approach at writing a better cover letter.
A student of Political communications, I subscribe to a lot of fundraising emails. A LOT. Most of them are pretty ineffective, all the way from subject to signature; after automagically knowing my name, “Derek–”, there isn’t much feeling of personalization… it’s all “me, me, me; donate donate donate” (Here’s looking at you, Barack.) I thought hard about what language hit the right nerve in these emails.
Next, I dug out the cover letters that actually worked (one of the better ones was addressed to Lindsay.) I went through each, looking for common words, phrases, or conventions. Synthesizing those letters into one, I ended up with the standard four-paragraph template you could read about on any number of websites, but with one notable exception: parentheses.
What could it be about use of parentheses — usually discouraged in formal communications — that made my letters click? I wasn’t sure, but was confident enough to keep using them. And while continuing to apply for the same kind of jobs, my success rate increased by 10 times. After further thought, I now understand what makes parenthetical commentary so
Parentheses let you be personal and professional simultaneously.
No one wants to read a cover letter. The letter is the arbitrary barrier to entry, the price of admission showing you’re willing to research a company, caring enough about the job to invest the time. Parentheses let you prove you understand convention while giving you carte blanche (almost) to speak as yourself, making a personal connection with the reader.
Parentheses are an aside, the inside joke between two professionals. Where the letter is the white-washed outside persona, the parentheses are a just-for-you nudge and whisper. You’re able to convey personality with a sense of humor and amicability — without using exclamation points, emoticons, or saying “I” too much (as feels like a problem in this post,
Long story short: write a standard cover letter, then spruce it up with parenthetical commentary. Some of those annotations you might turn into “real” sentences. You’ll create a more enjoyable read for the hiring manager and will likely be rewarded Just don’t over-do it (you wouldn’t want to come off as schizophrenic, either.)
Let me know how it works out: @derallo or derek.pangallo[@]gmail.com
Derek Pangallo is an Online Community Manager, Communications Consultant and Advertiser aspiring toward a Political New Media career on Capitol Hill. He hates talking about himself in the third person and thinks anyone whose Twitter bio is written as such should be banned from the Internet.
This is a guest post by Derek Pangallo.
There is an inherent, maddening irony in a New Media job search. You are distinguising yourself from the crowd, attempting to keep the hiring manager's attention -- effectively showcasing your ability to hold fickle interests in an economy where that same attention is the most precious commodity.
I'm taking inventory of my experience with personal branding in the digital age as applied to my job search. Last year after some professional success in my small hometown, I realized my life was spent inadvertently preparing for a career in New Media. I promise that's the last part of this post that will sound like a cover letter. An anthology of my cover letters would be an instant classic, though.
They said you have to get yourself out there. I needed a public blog, something in the search results. The only thing Google result was a PDF transcript of a trial in Australia where someone shared the same name. We can't have that; maybe it would be okay to open up the Facebook privacy settings just a little...
Where I'm from, it's uncouth to have your name, much worse your picture, on the internet. In a community where everyone already knows each other's business, it's somehow taboo to share outside that small bubble. Owning yourName.com was a good idea to harness SEO flow, but grandma thinks it's incredibly vain and possibly the mark of the beast.
You're me. Get a Twitter account. Follow all the movers and shakers. @ them, retweet, add to the discussion. But you need an edge, something to help you stand out. Maybe have the bright idea to stalk and "friend" the hiring managers on Facebook; turns out this works equally well as it would on real-life crushes, creeper. If you had the time back you've spent scouring job sites and writing cover letters, you could have written that novel, finished the album, or spent a more time nurturing your real-life relationships. Regroup.
Stretching yourself thin, trying to be all things to all people. A-political, a-sexual, ageless, always positive (read: boring). Wondering whether to add the french accents on the word résumé or leave it "resume", but phrases like "resume attached' can mislead the reader - best head over to the character map.
Have a few interviews that go great. Write thank-you letters, call and follow up. Never hear from them again.
Now you google yourself, second-guessing. You realize that there's too much now, an overload. Between the Youtube channel, blog comments, Flickr account and more, the person researching you has the same problem we all do while sitting in front of shiny rectangles - ADD. They stop reading at the first typo in your cover letter -- the tweet where you abbreviated please to "plz" for lack of characters is doubly offensive. They're not looking for a person, they're looking for a solution, a tool to solve a specific problem.
So you tighten your identity belt, dig up Linked-in connections, buck up, read a million more job descriptions. You know you're being watched. You're famous, no -- you're a secret agent. And you better be one hell of a verbal and written communicator with the ability to multitask in a fast-paced environment. Brb, my laundry just beeped.
Derek Pangallo is an Online Community Manager with expertise in audio/video/web/graphic production. He is New Media Director for a Congressional campaign, Online Events Manager for a college bar, and markets his vinyl graphics designs via internet advertising. His next goal is to work in New Media Communications in the United States Congress.